Thursday, December 2, 2010
People in your Neighborhood - Part II
So, if you didn't get the reference from the previous blog...Sesame Street. Hope you enjoyed the video one of my favorites as young boy growing up.
As an aside, what if we actually took to heart the command of the Lord in the gospel of Luke 10: 27 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Why does Jesus say this? Well, some sassy lawyer, who loves to argue (if can possibly imagine such a thing) "puts Jesus to the test." He asks Him "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" What is written in the Law?" "How do you read?" If each one of us individually focused our intellect and will on doing the things that we need to do love God, from ordering our daily prayer lives toward Him to the choices we make regarding recreation our hearts would become a throne upon which the love of God would rest. There is a divine order to these two commands. In other words, loving God comes before loving each other. If God is love (See 1 John/Short and beautiful read), than we cannot love our neighbor without reservation until we receive God's love first.
God law is not negative. In other words "Don't do it, cause I said so!" It is inherently positive, it does not depend wholly on not sinning (though we should work on that), rather on growing in love. As St. John Vianney would say "Yes, our only occupation here on earth is that of loving God-that is, to start doing what we will be doing for all eternity.
When the sassy lawyer, asks Jesus, "who is my neighbor?" Jesus responds by telling the parable of the good Samaritan. Jesus makes it very clear our neighbor is anyone of any race, religion, or socio-economic background that is need of our help. By helping them out, that is not merely doing a worldly deed. When we fail to give the spiritually poor the gospel, we give them a stone when they are in need of a fish.
Who are our neighbors certainly they are those who live right next store to us, whose names we may not even know. They are those whom we may have shoved out of our way on black friday to get that really good deal on the Lord of the Rings trilogy at Target, or those whom we compete against in athletics, whom we curse and spit on when we are losing.
As Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, WI recently said "Love for all, if it is sincere, naturally tends to become a preferential attention to the weakest and poorest (quoting the Pope), In this vein we find the Churches concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences. The Church continual reiterates what was declared by the Second Vatican Council against abortion and all violations of unborn life from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care (Gaudium Et Spes #51)"
There are always people in our neighborhood whom we tend to overlook. We will always need to work on growing in charity. We can either be the sarcastic, sassy, argumentative, arrogant lawyer, or we can seek to become docile servants first of Jesus Christ, so that we may serve one another in love. Our actions and the life of prayer and contemplation should never be seen as being at odds with each other. Rather, they are when properly ordered, the surest way to image the merciful love of Christ. Our being is filled with the love of Christ in contemplation. This should compel us to act for love God. Activity without contemplation is barren, stale, and in no way shape or form meritorious of heaven. Contemplation without action, holiness, or sanctification of our activities is not pleasing to God either.
Pray for a deeper interior understanding of God's love and mercy in your own life. Ask him to deliver you from those things which keep you from offering yourself as a gift to others in love. Ask for the intercession of St. Catherine of Sienna, in a vision Jesus placed is Sacred Heart into her chest.